Small Wars Journal

Giving Guerrillas the Boot

Giving Guerrillas the Boot - Time's Battleland Q&A / Book Review by Mark Thompson.

Hawkish historian Max Boot is out with a book on insurgency. In Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, the emphasis is on the epic – the tome weighs in at 750 pages. It’ll be released Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Seeing as the campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been more irregular than regular, perhaps it’s an apt time for a primer on the topic. And who’s a better guide than Boot, author of 2002′s The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, and 2006′s War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. Battleland conducted this email chat with Boot, who hangs his helmet at the Council on Foreign Relations, last week...


Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 1:34pm

A really good analysis and one of the first I have seen on the new Russian UW strategy of limited war that takes one through the actual developments in eastern Ukraine.

Why is this article of particular importance?---it has started talking about inherent single points of failure that I have been tracking as well that make the Russian new doctrine actually both interesting to watch unfold but relatively easy to counter if NATO fully understands them which up to now they have not appeared to understand.

As strange as it sounds in some aspects the Ukrainians after the shock of the Russian invasion with "vacationing troops and tanks" and after losing the Crimea have seemingly recovered and are pushing back slowly but steadily although still weak on the anti armor and anti aircraft side and facing financial difficulties.

They themselves shifted to guerrilla warfare the only counter to a guerrilla focused UW strategy backed up by a stronger growing CF.

Therein lies the secret to countering the Russian UW strategy--first SF then joint CF/SF and then back to SF coupled with a strong armed internal security force. Coupled with a government that provides the necessary rule of law and good governance that the population wants and is willing to fight for. In some ways as corny as it sounds---replication of our own 1776 war of independence which we ourselves way to often simply forget about.

Example of a recent successful Ukrainian SF operation.
The #Kadyrov, army officer, who "interrogated" #Ukraine army detainees @ #Ilovaisk is killed by UA &buried on Dec 13

Very good piece in Strategy by @LawDavF on "#Ukraine and the Art of Limited War":…

This is a second article from the main Russian organizer of the eastern Ukraine engineered takeover who is a FSB officer and was pulled back to Moscow ---who is basically thinking the same way as the first article.…

Bill M.

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 10:20am

In reply to by davidbfpo

Normally not a fan of Boot's articles, but this one is quite good. His last point about it takes time to nation build and defeat an insurgency concerned based on his previous writings, where he paralleled Nagl's view that we just need to keep at it longer as though more time would overcome bad strategy. We can spend 50 years there and still fail. If I'm in a 15 round fight and I'm getting my but kicked, it is unlikely another 10 rounds will result in a sign if ant change unless I change my approach e.g. pull out a pistol or introduce my big friend Eric to my opponent :-). Patience can be a curse as well as a blessing. While hard to do, we need to determine when patience is strategic and when it is foolish.


Mon, 01/14/2013 - 2:51pm

Excellant review. Will have to get the book.